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by Patty Cheffey
Noting they are supportive of broadband in the rural areas, the Marion County Commission heard a complaint from an individual about the county’s lack of plan to address the issue.
Linda Webb was present at Monday’s meeting to discuss the situation with the commissioners, who also signed a letter of support of a project at the old St. Elizabeth Hospital and approved putting a courthouse repair project out for bid.
Webb, who said she was representing several neighbors and had collected a number of signatures about poor broadband availability, indicated she had been a recent training session and heard from both Chariton Valley and Rep. Louis Riggs that Palmyra did not have a plan in place to proceed with broadband and therefore had been left behind other counties.
She further noted Chariton Valley informed her Shelby County had a plan and had agreed to pay money to Chariton Valley and Mark Twain Communications for fiber optic cable in that county.
Noting he was a little irked at both Riggs and Chariton Valley, Eastern District Commissioner Larry Welch as well as the other two commissioners informed Webb that Chariton Valley was supposed to have come back to the county with some cost figures for putting fiber optic into the rural areas.
“They wanted the county to put money into putting it in Hannibal and Palmyra, and we are not interested in doing that and told them so,” said Western District Commissioner Steve Begley.
Chariton Valley was at a commission meeting about two months ago, and have not been in attendance since then.
After making some phone calls Monday morning, Presiding Commissioner David Lomax said Mark Twain had told him they were not interested in expanding outside of their current area, and Chariton Valley had not returned the call.
In other business, the commissioners met with Corey Mehaffey concerning another project at the former St. Elizabeth Hospital in Hannibal.
The potential project would include renovation for a 50 unit senior living apartments and common areas, and this time would use low income tax credits instead of historic tax credits, Mehaffey said, noting the change in tax credits is why he believes this project will move forward.
It was noted the developer is asking to not pay real estate taxes for a total of 25 years, but Mehaffey said the city of Hannibal has not agreed to that at this point.
Following the presentation, the commissioners approved a letter of support for the project.
The commissioners discussed and approved putting out for bid work to repair and repaint the entire metal fascia and fretwork around the clock and Lady Liberty on the Marion County Courthouse in Palmyra.
Work would include everything on the roof of the courthouse, except the roof itself. Bids will be open at the Oct. 18 meeting.
The commissioners also met again with Stephanie Cooper with Douglass Community Services about the new building project, for which they are asking the county for $500,000 of its American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds.
Although Douglass Community Services will still need to submit an application for those funds, the commissioners gave verbal approval for those funds.
They will submit something in writing for that in order to let Douglass proceed with their Community Development Block Grant application for that project as well.
The commissioners also:
• signed a letter stating they will participate in the CART program again this year, which involves gravel for state public use areas;
• approved a contract with the Department of Agriculture to continue with the remonumentation of cornerstones in the county;
• learned County Road 266 has been black topped;
• learned Planning and Zoning will meet Oct. 28 and Nov. 11; and
• learned the county had received an EMPG grant in the amount of $9,510.70, which will pay half of the county’s emergency management director’s salary and for part of the Code Red program.